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the national institute of health, michelle from u.n. aids, debra carrying on the great work of our acting global aids coordinator and our many friends from the philanthropic world including bill gates. thank you for joining us here today. now, every year this is a moment to reflect on how far we've come since the early days of the aids epidemic. those of you who lived through it remember all too well the fear and stigma and how hard people with hiv had to fight to be seen or heard or treated with basic compassion. do you remember how little we knew about how to prevent aids or treat them. what we did know was the devastation it inflicted, striking down vibrant men and women in the prime of their lives and spreading from city to city and country to country seemingly overnight. today that picture is transformed. thanks to the courage and love of so many of you in this room and around the world, awareness has soared, research has surged, prevention, treatment and care are now saving millions of lives not only in the world's richest countries but in some of the world's poorest countries as we
. largest gathering of heads of state outside of u.n. perhaps ever. we'll have to see how this day goes. and of course, there will be tens of thousands of people, perhaps millions of people, trying to get near the soccer stadium where this event will take place. it begins at 11:00 a.m. local time, 4:00 a.m. eastern time. either supposed to last for about four hours. we understand from the list of speakers that several of nelson mandela's grandchildren will speak, also his co-defendants convicted with mandela in 1963 and sentenced to a life in prison on robben island. one of them will speak as well as heads of state, president obama, president of brazil, china, india, raoul castro of cuba. this country has been friends and allies for some time. quite a day ahead of us, andrea. that's just one day. there will be several days where nelson mandela's body will lie in state at the union building at the national capital here and, of course, culminating event, the funeral in the eastern province. a poor rural area which was nelson mandela's homeland underscoring his very humble beginnings where
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